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A/A2 — credit rating

A — S&P / Fitch A2 — Moody’s Such ratings are given to bond issues and insurance companies, primarily, and this particular one is in the Upper Medium band of the Investment Grade ratings. Investment grade bonds are considered to have a very low possibility of default. The ratings go up to AAA/Aaa and all the way down to DDD/D, with Investment Grade bonds being in the range of AAA/Aaa to BBB-/Baa3. Continue reading...

A+/A1 — credit rating

A+ — S&P / Fitch A1 — Moody’s In the spectrum of ratings given to bonds and companies, A+/A1 is a very good rating to get, even if it is the 5th rating from the top. The Big Three ratings institutions, which are Fitch, Moody’s, and S&P, give ratings for creditworthiness after inspecting the books of companies who issue bonds. There are credit ratings given for companies and credit ratings given to bond issues. Continue reading...

What does Investment Grade Mean?

Investment grade refers to the highest quality of debt available, and usually means the bond has little risk of default. Determining a bond’s credit rating is typically handled by ratings agencies, which is far from a perfect process. Ratings agencies like Moody’s and S&P notoriously failed to rate mortgage backed securities as high risk in the months/years leading into the 2008 financial crisis, instead keeping them as investment grade even as the crisis took hold. Continue reading...

BB-/Ba3 — Credit Rating

BB- — S&P / Fitch Ba3 — Moody’s The BB-/Ba3 rating is given to bonds and companies who have a moderate risk of default, and this rating appears around the middle of a scale with over 20 ratings. There are two symbols in this example which are the same rating: Fitch and S&P use BB-, and Moody’s uses Ba3. These are the Big Three of the Credit Ratings Agencies (CRAs) that the SEC has sanctioned to issue ratings which can be used for internal regulation within industry groups. Continue reading...

BB+/Ba1 — credit rating

BB+ — S&P / Fitch Ba1 — Moody’s This rating is the highest non-investment grade category that the ratings agencies will give to a bond. When rating bond issues based on their risk of default, investment grade bonds will range from AAA/Aaa to BBB-/Baa3, in the parlance of Fitch, Moody’s and S&P. Below this level, starting with the BB+/Ba1 rating, are High Yield Bonds, also known as Junk Bonds. If an investor chooses wisely, high yield bonds can be some of the best investments in his or her portfolio. The further down the ratings scale a bond appears, the higher the yield; but there is also a higher risk of default. The higher yield paid out on higher-risk bonds is known as the “risk premium,” which is a concept present throughout the investment world. Continue reading...

What is Momentum Investing?

Momentum investors usually have their own models for determining whether they think a price trend (to the upside or downside) is set to continue - sometimes it’s looking at a 3 month trend, sometimes a few weeks, sometimes even longer. The idea is that once a trend is established, an investor can buy into its continuance (if its an upward trend), or sell into (or sell short) if it is an established downward trend. Momentum investing is by no means a proven method, but sophisticated investors will try to use models to increase their probabilities of success. Continue reading...

What are Core Mutual Funds?

Core mutual funds represent the middle ground between Value and Growth, but are not the same as Blend funds. Core Mutual Funds are in between Growth and Value funds. In other words, companies in their portfolio have Price to Earnings ratios which are higher than those of Value companies but lower than those of Growth companies. This category is essentially based on the 9-box Morningstar categorization system, which separates equity funds into Small, Mid and Large Cap on the vertical axis and Value, Core, and Growth on the horizontal axis. Continue reading...

What are Resistance and Support Levels?

In technical analysis, a level of resistance is an imaginary barrier that keeps the price of a security from rising beyond a certain level. Conversely, a level of support is an imaginary barrier that keeps the price of a security from falling beyond a certain level. A resistance line can be thought of as the theoretical glass ceiling that a security price has difficulty breaking through. Resistance lines (along with moving averages, standard deviation, and similar calculations) are used to put a range of probability on the expected movement of a security price, with the resistance line representing the top of that range. Continue reading...

BB/Ba2 — credit rating

BB — S&P / Fitch Ba2 — Moody’s A bond rated BB/Ba2 is just below investment grade and is a somewhat speculative financial instrument. Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) are the Big Three major credit ratings institutions. They each have proprietary formulas for assessing the financial strength and creditworthiness of companies, municipalities, insurers, and bond issues, The most common use of these ratings is for bonds, as investors seek to learn how likely it is that a bond will default on its payments. Continue reading...

How to use Stochastics in trading

Stochastic oscillators are a popular momentum indicator used in technical analysis and prized for their accuracy and clarity. They can provide overbought or oversold signals to traders and even be combined with other indicators, like moving averages or the Relative Strength Index (RSI), to unearth insights that support profit-maximizing trades. Stochastics gauge an asset’s closing price in comparison to a range (measured 0-100) of closing prices over a mutable (though most often 14-day) time period, creating overbought (readings of 80-plus) and oversold (readings of 20 or under) trading signals. Continue reading...

AA+/Aa1 — credit rating

AA+ — S&P / Fitch Aa1 — Moody’s Major independent rating institutions such as Moody’s, Fitch, and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) can make or break a company or municipality’s ability to issue debt at a competitive yield. They rank companies and debt issues in terms of the risk of default. Ratings in the A range are considered Investment Grade, which is a rating mostly used by institutional investors. The interesting thing is that there are 7 kinds of A ratings, and they are different between the ratings institutions. We will not list them here, but charts that show the system are readily available online. Continue reading...

B-/B3 — credit rating

B- — S&P / Fitch B3 — Moody’s In the world of junk bonds, a B3/B- rating is about as low of a rating as most investors will venture to explore. Bonds are rated by independent ratings institutions known as the Big Three: Moody’s, Fitch, and S&P. Two companies, S&P and Fitch, use the same symbols, and the B- in this example belongs to them. Moody’s has its own system, and the B3 in this example is theirs. Continue reading...

How to use the Aroon Indicators in trading?

The Aroon Indicators are a pair of momentum indicators – the Aroon Up value and Aroon Down value – named after the Sanskrit word for the first light of day. Each indicator represents a standardized value for the strength of the upward or downward pressure on a stock, which analysts can compare to determine if there is a trend emerging. Aroon looks at the latency between highs for certain rolling time periods, with 25 days being the standard time frame. Continue reading...

How to use Bollinger Bands in trading?

Bollinger Bands were developed by famous trader John Bollinger as a technical analysis tool to discern the likely trading range of a security. A Bollinger Band is typically two standard deviations from a moving average line, both above and below the average. Standard deviation is another word for the average volatility of a price over a length of time. It is typical for a trader looking up the historical price chart for a security to compare it to a moving average line. Continue reading...

What are Envelopes and Trading Bands?

Moving average envelopes and trading bands help traders filter their decisions to trade. These tools set thresholds on the amount of movement above and below a moving average to trigger a decision to trade (or at least prompt further consideration by the trader). A moving average envelope often takes a moving average line for a security or index and duplicates it, moving one line a certain percentage above and one a certain percentage below (the distance may depend on volatility levels). Price fluctuations in a security then might trigger a decision to sell when the price hits the upper band, or a decision buy when the price hits the lower band. If it crosses the bands it might be seen as a new trend. Continue reading...

What is adaptive price zone?

Adaptive Price Zone is a volatility-based trading indicator. Similar to traditional Bollinger Bands, Adaptive Price Zone is a recent development by Lee Leibfarth that overlays two indicator bands around a moving average line. It is more adaptive than many previous band indicators, using several short-term exponential moving averages which are double-smoothed and closely hug changes in volatility and price data. Exponential moving averages give more weight to recent data, which helps the lines hug current data. Continue reading...

Should I invest in commodities?

Investing in commodities has lately become accessible to even small retail investors via ETFs. There are now literally hundreds of different commodity ETFs, linked to various individual commodities and baskets (such as agricultural baskets, commodity indices, etc.) These instruments are very complex and sometimes do not reflect the behavior of the underlying commodity. While investing in commodities may significantly diversify your portfolio, it requires profound knowledge of the behavior of the underlying assets. Continue reading...

Is there any merit to the momentum theories?

The momentum theory has many fans for its useful and relatively simple nature. The momentum theory basically states that markets which are moving either up or down for some period of time cannot suddenly reverse their course. Utilizing these strategies means jumping on a freight train, riding it for a short period of time, and jumping off before it stops and reverses direction. It is hard to argue with the this one, but it may be hard to find momentum strong enough for an investor’s taste in certain market environments, which might mean spending too much time on the sidelines, and due to the frequent active trading involved, the investor will incur fees and be susceptible to emotions and media hype. Continue reading...

Top Stock Chart Patterns

Chart patterns are shapes that sometimes appear in the charts of securities prices. Some of them may prove useful to you. Some frequently discussed chart patterns include Head and Shoulders, Double/Triple Bottom/Top, Cups and Saucers, Flags and Pennants, and others. Generally, it can be useful to compare and connect the troughs to each other and the peaks to each other to see if there is a trend confirmation if the breadth is narrowing, or if a reversal might be imminent. Continue reading...

Who is the best custodian for my investments?

Custodians are the institutions which hold your securities for you and provide some related services. Some will have various arrangements and relationships with exchanges and broker-dealers, and some may do everything in-house; such things have bearing on what your investment options are, how much equity you must have for margin, what kind of fees you pay for various services, and so on. Different custodians tend to structure their fees and services to a particular type of clientele or a particular account size. You may outgrow the custodian you have, or you may discover that there is a better, more affordable option for an account like yours. Continue reading...